Between senior citizens doing the sidestroke, ladies aquacizing in skirted swimsuits, and toddlers bobbing in water wings, the pool might not seem like the must-hit exercise spot for fitness-minded men. But a smart water workout—not simply slogging through laps—holds the key to sculpting your best body ever. "Water is about 800 times denser than air, so it provides about 12 times more resistance," says Erwin R. Gonzalez, a New York Health & Racquet Club group-fitness instructor and founder of the Kinetic Sculpt regimen. "That means the moves you do in the pool can work your entire body, particularly your arms, legs, shoulders, and core." By performing a mix of cardio and strength moves in the water, you burn calories while building lean muscle, which accelerates your metabolism. "Plus," Gonzalez adds, "you get the same endorphin rush as you do running or spinning."

There's one thing, however, that a pool-based workout will not give you: muscle soreness and injury. "Exercising in the pool is a great complement to conventional dry-land exercises like running because there's virtually no impact on your joints," says exercise physiologist Jonathan Cane, cofounder of City Coach Multisport in New York City. And it can help ease the tension we all get from hunching over a desk all day, explains Gonzalez: "The benefits of water workouts for gaining flexibility, balance, and muscle symmetry cannot be overestimated." You'll also bust your exercise boredom. "By February, people are tired of the same old gym workouts," says Gonzalez, who designed this plan. "Getting in the water can reenergize you and bring back that resolve."

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THE PLAN
Perform each exercise in a set without breaks, in a pool that's at least four feet deep. "For a total-body burn, perform the three sets back-to-back, then take a three-minute break before you repeat the sets—in reverse," Gonzalez says. Warm up with a few laps or jog in place for two to five minutes.

SET 1
CARDIO SET: High-knee sprints (left)
(Targets: core, hips, quads, calves)
Run from one end of the pool to the other, lifting your knees with each stride while your arms swing forward and backward at a 90-degree angle. Repeat for one minute.

ACTIVE RECOVERY: Pull-buoy swim
(Targets: shoulders, chest, back, core)
Put a pull buoy (a figure-eight-shaped piece of foam that supports your legs so you don't have to kick) between your legs and swim your stroke of choice for one minute.



STRENGTH SET: Push- and pull-ups (above)
(Targets: shoulders, chest, back, biceps, triceps, core)
Stand facing the pool's wall and place your hands on the deck, shoulder-distance apart. Submerge yourself as deep as you can, keeping your head above water. Push yourself up until your hips come out of the water, hold for a beat, then slowly lower yourself down. (Try not to jump or use your legs; let your upper body do the work.) Repeat for one minute.

ACTIVE RECOVERY: Kicking cooldown
(Targets: hips, legs)
Holding a kickboard at the top with your forearms on the board, kick the length of the pool for one minute.

SET 2
CARDIO SET: Backward runs
(Targets: hamstrings, quads, calves)
Run backward from one end of the pool to the other as fast as you can. Once on the other side, forward sprint, lifting your knees with each stride. Repeat sequence for two minutes.

ACTIVE RECOVERY: Pull-buoy swim
(Targets: shoulders, chest, back, core)
Put a pull buoy between your legs and swim your stroke of choice for two minutes.



CORE SET: Rotating knee tucks (above)
(Targets: core, hips)
With your back to the wall, place your forearms on the pool's deck, shoulder-width apart, palms down. Let your lower body float up to the top of the water and do rotating knee tucks: Rotate your torso to the right, tuck your knees, release, rotate to the left, tuck your knees, release. Repeat for two minutes.

ACTIVE RECOVERY: Kicking cooldown
(Targets: hips, legs)
Using a kickboard (or the edge of the pool), kick for two minutes.

SET 3
CARDIO SET: Relay
(Targets: shoulders, chest, triceps, core, legs)
High-knee sprint a length of the pool. Grab a kickboard and kick as hard as you can back to the other end. Drop the board and sprint back in a zigzag line. Grab a pull buoy, place it between your legs, and do breaststroke pulls to the other side. That's one set. Repeat for three minutes.

ACTIVE RECOVERY: Pull-buoy swim
(Targets: shoulders, chest, back, core)
Put a pull buoy between your legs and swim your stroke of choice for three minutes.

STRENGTH SET:
1. Split-jump lunges with biceps curls
(Targets: biceps, back, hips, glutes, quads)
With an aqua dumbbell in each hand, arms at your sides, step your right foot back into a lunge. Jump up to switch sides and do a biceps curl, keeping arms submerged. (You can alternate arms or curl both arms at the same time.) Continue for 90 seconds.

2. Jump squats
(Targets: shoulders, abs, glutes, quads)
With dumbbells in hands, arms at sides, elbows bent 90 degrees, jump into a wide squat as you lift your elbows so they're parallel to the floor of the pool. Hold for a beat, then bring your arms and legs back to the start. Do as many reps as possible in 90 seconds.

ACTIVE RECOVERY: Kicking cooldown
(Targets: hips, legs)
Using a kickboard (or the edge of the pool), kick for three minutes.

CORE SET:
(Targets: core, hips)
1. Triceps kickbacks
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Bend forward 30 degrees, hinging from the hips, and bend your elbows, bringing your upper arms parallel and close to your torso. Slowly straighten your elbows, hold for a beat, then bend your elbows again, returning your arms to starting position. Repeat for one minute.

2. Tree-huggers (right)
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Dumbbells in hand, hold your arms straight out, then bend your elbows outward and bring the weights together as if you're hugging a tree. Squeezing your pecs together, jump up and rotate your hips to the left. Once you land, jump up and twist your torso to the right for one rep. Keeping your gaze straight ahead, continue, alternating sides, for one minute. (To increase the difficulty, place a pull buoy between your knees.)

3. Jump tucks
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Jump up, tuck your knees to your stomach, place your hands around your knees, then release for one rep. Repeat for one minute.

ACTIVE RECOVERY: Single-arm swims
(Targets: back, core)
Float on your back for one minute. Turn onto your left side with your left arm outstretched in front of you. Place your right arm on your right hip and keep your head above water. Kick the length of the pool back and forth for one minute. Repeat on the opposite side for one minute.

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THE GEAR

Resistance Dumbbells
Gym pools stock foam weights—if you want your own, try a set from TYR ($20; TYR.com).

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3 WAYS TO UPGRADE YOUR WATER WORK OUT

Suit Up Smartly
The longer the swimsuit, the harder the workout, because it creates more drag, Gonzalez says. One more reason to skip the banana hammock.

Don't Be Shallow
The workout will deliver better benefits the deeper you go because there will be more water resistance.

Stay Tuned In
Can't manage a workout without music? A waterproof MP3 player will keep you plugged in to your favorite songs. (One to try: Finis SwiMP3 X18, $160; finisinc.com)

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